Erika Dietz was overwhelmed when she started teaching English at T.C. Williams High School two years ago. Not because the 24-year-old struggled to connect with students or to handle the workload. Relentless, yet also patient and charming, she quickly became one of the most popular teachers at the Alexandria school, and in June 2012 she received a state-funded Titan Transformer Award for “outstanding work toward the goal of transformation” of T.C.
What bothered her was everything that went along with that goal: the consultants, the jargon, the endless stream of new reform initiatives. “It felt like every buzzword or trend in education was being thrown at us at once,” she told me over the summer, shortly after moving to Texas. “When something didn’t work right away, it was discarded the next year or even midyear.”